When Regan Thibodeau picks up her degree this Spring, the Falmouth woman will become the first deaf Maine native to earn a doctorate and one of a shockingly few number of deaf doctorate-holders worldwide. Thibodeau, who has taught for years at USM, says she wants her Ph.D. — in public policy with a concentration in educational leadership — to show other deaf people that it can be done. And she hopes it will happen more often.
What led you to pursue your education at USM? Unique ASL programming that covered all of my interests in advocating and educating with and about Deaf people.
Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? Being among hearing people that were learning my language through the Interpreting Training Program opened them up to me for a better understanding of how hearing people think and how they value certain things.
What are your future plans? I want to publish my research on the Dynamics of Deaf Leadership and pass LD 642 during the 2019 legislative cycle, a bill I co-wrote to help shed light on the protection of language rights endowed to all people by bringing focus on Kindergarten Readiness for Deaf/Hard of Hearing/ DeafBlind children, as well as publish my research on the placement of Professional Deaf Interpreters in the public K-12 school systems. Hopefully, I will resume traveling as I have been to 16 countries so far.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank? I want to thank my amazing family. My husband and children endured my Ph.D. studies nearly as much as I have and survived it with me. My father gave me continued support from the bandstands. My wonderful friends believed in me to make this happen and stick to it, even when I didn't think I could. And I commend Dr. Shepard-Kegl for establishing the ITP program at USM in 1998, which made it possible for me to make USM my alma mater.